Saturday, July 30, 2005


Nordic Walking & Mountain Marathons

Thanks to Charles Sproson for this article on using Nordic Walking poles whilst training for & running in The LAMM (Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon). The LAMM was held on the weekend of 18th/19th June on Isle of Mull, just off the west coast of Scotland, in the United Kingdom. Charles & his business partner David run The Outdoor Warehouse, Windermere, UK.

Charles says...

I never thought that I would concede to the idea of using Poles. I have always laughed and scoffed at people using them. However, Gareth Thomas, my LAMM partner, and I have now used Nordic Walking poles to help us achieve a 13th place finish in the 'B' class of the LAMM.

Just to put this into context, the previous year we had entered 'C' class and come 30th, we may well have done considerably better this time had we not made a bad route choice on the 2nd day.

Originally we had big plans of training hard and winning the 'C' class but by the time we got round to registering the 'C' class was full, our options now were 'B' or 'D'. We couldn't go backwards so 'B' it was. With 4 and a half weeks left to go and unlike last year with no real training behind us, Gareth and I were doing 'B' class. Were we MAD ?

As I panicked in the shop, sweating more each day, Paul Cosgrove a rep. from Montane called by. I knew he was doing the LAMM and had been out training with poles. When he'd first told me I'd laughed, but this time I was very interested in what he thought about the use of poles, as he'd just done one of the LAMM courses the weekend before. He said they were great, " you power up the hills, like a machine" he said...

I thought - "we need all the help we can get and if we can turn into machines up hill then to hell with the snide remarks and funny looks we might get, there had to be something in this. As in George Orwell's Animal Farm " four legs good, two legs bad".

The handles on Leki Nordic Walking poles have a cleverly designed strap system. The strap system is detachable from the pole so it allows you to click in or out as you please thanks to the quick release button on top of the handle. This is very handy feature.

So, on the up hills you click in and as you hit the top and as it flattens out you click out and you can hold the poles as you run the flats and downs and then click back in when you hit the hills again. So I thought why not give it a go at least on a training run.

So off we went, and yes you could power up the hills, and it was all right running with poles in your hand. On rough ground they were a great help steadying yourself, saving a few falls. A couple more training runs and we were confident that they would make a difference.

Another benefit of training with poles is that they increase aerobic fitness much quicker than normal, so although we hadn't trained extensively we got fitter quicker. Nordic Walking like Nordic Skiing uses more muscle groups than most other sports and burns more calories pro rata, depending on how hard you train, so your fitness levels increase far quicker than say just walking or running.

So came the big day, or should I say weekend and off to the Isle of Mull we went. One thing we hadn't really been able to test was would the poles get in the way navigating?

...Our training runs hadn't been under pressure or the stress of a race, and not in low cloud and clag. The answer I think we both agreed on was not really. We ran and poled our way to 13th place, which blew us away.

So did the Nordic Walking poles make a difference...? For my money, without a doubt yes and next year we'll be at the LAMM again, using Nordic Walking poles.

Charles Sproson

Interested in reading more about the LAMM ? Then visit:

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